Julie Elizabeth Powell has published 25 books to date, in a variety of genres and lengths. She is also a contributor to the Mind’s Eye series of anthologies of poetry and short stories inspired by photographs.
As she writes for her short bio on Amazon, “I cannot ignore my dreams, so many of them, with names and places and ideas that spark my imagination and compel me to write; to create stories, whether fantasy or horror, or mystery or psychological thriller or murder or even humour and adventure. So, my garden is sown, flourishing, with all manner of growth, and still the dreams come. Julie Elizabeth Powell, my soul lingering within my imagination; maybe you’ll join me?”
“The Box That Jane Built” is a perfect example of allowing my imagination to flow where it wants. I started with a premise – ‘What if someone had been locked up and then escaped?’ not really thinking about it, but letting the writing happen. The characters certainly led and I was surprised (as usual) at how it evolved. The mind of each character took control.
I am always astonished at where my stories lead. I never have a genre in mind. Ideas pop into my head either from dreams or something I may see, hear, taste, touch and feel (or from that deep inner sense we have) and then I write.
I’m not sure of why, but the only way I can write is to sit at the computer then the words pour, somewhere between my imagination, my fingers and the screen. I’m sure it’s magic.
In this instance, no, the idea for this story did not come in a dream. I’d been reading something and the idea popped into my head – ‘Someone escaping’. As the story unfolded (not sure where exactly), Jane’s character took hold – her feelings, the reasons why – and off she led. Jack, too (the other main character) showed the way through his part in the story.
Most definitely. These ideas came in a dream. The characters were forceful and knew where they wanted to go; I had no option but to allow it.
I have always been fascinated with how the mind works and why people do what they do. Are they crazy or is it something more, something others can’t see or understand? This was demonstrated through “My Imaginary Friend.”
“My Imaginary Friend” took the character, who’d shown herself in a dream, and threw me into the story of possibilities. While “The Audition,” too, came in a dream, it was more I saw the ‘room’ than the character – again showing me the possibilities or maybe impossibilities?
As I don’t usually have a genre in mind when I begin a story, most are acceptable to me. I do enjoy writing fantasy because I can let my imagination loose to an amazing degree. It’s fun, and I can make anything happen. I do think that fantasy is the perfect vehicle for the imagination.
Most genres are acceptable to me, although, I don’t like erotica and I doubt I’d ever write western…but who knows, it’ll depend on what ‘speaks to me’.
In my opinion, the imagination allows us to soar anywhere in any direction; no limits, nobody else’s rules – so, then, if that’s the case, my soul must lay within it because it makes me who I am.
Therefore, my writing comes from my imagination; my soul.
I’d always jotted down stories, but none felt good enough to go anywhere, so were thrown away. As a child, my favourite stories were fantasy – magic carpets and wishing chairs – this obviously influenced my writing. I loved the way these tales could take me anywhere, allowing my imagination to leave reality – never been a fan of that.
However, it wasn’t until many years later that I seriously began to write. My first novel is called Gone, written because of what happened to my daughter. When Samantha was two, her heart stopped and she died, but was brought back too late, so that she was left severely brain damaged. She survived in this cruel state for seventeen years, and during that time I had a question: Where had my daughter gone? Because what had been Samantha, her essence, had vanished, leaving only a suffering twisted shell.
So, I created a world and went in search of her. Gone is the result. This will always be my most important book and I hope it will help others who have suffered loss. It’s not a depressing read, but one of adventure, lessons and choices, an inspirational tale that might trigger the imagination of others and lighten their hearts.
As for writer’s block, I don’t believe in such a thing. Yes, there are times when I have to stop one particular project for many reasons – more thinking or another idea needs attention – but then I write something else whilst waiting. For example, my new novel, Maisie, is turning out to be much longer than I expected, and it’s complicated to write because I am trying something new (secret), so sometimes I have to take a break from it. There are a few stories begun, while another character from my Weird series is commanding me to continue with missive four. Henry Ian Darling is likeable but stubborn – to placate him, I’ve started the next story (not that I really know where it’s going, but I’m sure he’ll tell me). Henry came to me in a dream.
What keeps me writing? The nagging voices in my head of characters that insist on making a statement, the dreams and my love of the craft. I’d find it difficult to ever stop writing.
As a child, I loved magical stories. As a teenager, one book really sparked my imagination – John Wyndham’s, The Chrysalids. It was about difference and how people are afraid of it. Fascinating story – like all of his works.
Writing has always been part of me, but, as I’ve explained, Gone was my first novel.
I still enjoy magically themed books. Harry Potter is a particularly good work of the imagination, a wonderful battle of good vs. evil and great characters. As I read the seven books, I could see J.K Rowling’s influences – very well done.
Dean Koontz is my favourite author (apart from me!) because his books are thought-provoking and hopeful; a mix of fantasy and reality with great characters and dialogue. Stephen King’s work is good but it does lack hope.
I read many, many books, mostly from the independent pool of writing because (for the most part) they don’t stick to formulas and are very different from those which are found on the bookshop shelves.
I also review every book I read because I know the importance and like to help other independent authors. I am self-published, and (so I’ve read) thought the lowest in the pecking order of authors, but I think my work is great and hope that it will inspire others to think and maybe even change them some positive way.
If you find your lives are a mess, awkward, difficult, strange, miserable…read a book. Stories will take you on a journey where you can be anything, do anything and will transport you into worlds where you can be the hero or the villain or the beast or the genie from the lamp. Stories can teach you how to manage your lives – being bullied? – then read a book about how bullies can be beaten. Your parents won’t listen to you? – then read a book about how others have learned to communicate. Hate yourself – feel different? – then read a book about how others have coped and changed their thinking.
My recommended list – no, I won’t add mine!
The Chrysalids – John Wyndham
The Lord of the Flies – William Golding
Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
1984 – George Orwell
Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
Brave New Word – Aldous Huxley
The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
Life of Pi – Yann Martel
Hamlet – William Shakespeare
Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
Frankenstein – Mary Shelley
Insomnia – Stephen King
Odd Thomas series – Dean Koontz
There are many more, but this will have to do.
The world I’d created in Gone was too good to waste, so I used it as a starting point for The Avalon Trilogy. This epic fantasy was so long that I had to divide it into three – #1 The Star Realm, #2 Invasion, #3 Secrets Of The Ice.
It’s a tale of friendship, unity, fantastical worlds, good v evil, and a secret that is not revealed until the very last moment of book three. Five children, aged between ten and twelve, are called to Avalon by the Time Keeper, Ezrin, so to aid in its savour and that of Earth’s. It’s filled with adventure, enchantments, twists, turns and all manner of imaginative creatures, worlds and predicaments.
The Avalon Trilogy took a long time to write – at least a year or two altogether. It’s over one thousand pages long. It should spark anyone’s imagination, any age, even if it’s meant for a younger audience.
Again, I didn’t know exactly how it would pan out, but I am pleased with the result. The Star Realm is also an audiobook, as are the majority of my books.
My current novel is called Maisie. It’s a fantasy about a blind girl…hey, I can’t give spoilers. I’m trying something I haven’t done before, so it’s not an easy write (it’ll be easy to read).
I’m also working on #4 of my Weird series – a paranormal story told from the perspective of Henry Ian Darling, a unique character with a brilliant ‘voice’. It’s nothing like anything I’ve read before. The story is told within missives, though each has an ending, I’m not sure where it’s all going to end yet – Henry will tell me.
There are also some short stories and other bits and pieces I’m working on, depending on where my dreams lead me.
It’s easy to say if you want to write then write, but I know it’s not always that simple. I would say don’t think about it too much. Look around you. Anything can spark your imagination, and then jot down some words about it – do not think about it too much. Let the words flow and see where they lead you. You’ll be surprised where it goes.
Never let others put you off! Writing is about you and how you feel – it doesn’t matter what others think. I don’t stick to formulas or rules, but if it suits you to do so, then do so. Think about challenging your writing. Try various genres and styles. If a story doesn’t work for you, then look at it from another angle; maybe from another point of view? Or try another story.
Whatever you decide, write because you enjoy it.
Read more about Julie at her website and discover more of her work at the following:
Julie Elizabeth Powell Books
Gone by Julie Elizabeth Powell
I enjoyed this interview so much. Thank you, Sandy and Julie. I love how you say your soul lingers in your imagination. Very powerful!
Julie is an amazing writer.
Great interview and advice for new writers, Julie. 🙂
Great interview! I love Julie’s writing. She has a fantastic imagination.
I also think that there is an element of ‘magic’ in writing 🙂
Looking forward to reading her new novel!
Thank you, Maria!
Thank you, Julie, for your imagination, your dreams, your gifts, your stories. They are scary and thrilling and deeply engaging. The multiplicity and variety of characters are reason enough to engage.
Thank you, Sandra!
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this.